One lucky participant in America's Guru Puja was David Lovejoy, the General Secretary of Divine Light Mission, Australia. Here is his report on the event …
The University of Massachusetts surrounded by the gentle Berkshire Mountains provided the setting for an American Guru Puja that attracted no less than thirteen thousand premies. Thirteen thousand souls tuned to the same note of devotion for the Perfect Master of our time.
The festival begins slowly. On Friday July 5, Guru Maharaj Ji, his wife Marolyn, now known as Durga Mata Ji, and a group of Mahatmas are still en route from Copenhagen. A line of weary pilgrims stretches for hundreds of yards from the check-in point. Near the main campus centre a multi-coloured bazaar is being erected. Selling everything from publications to root beer, hand-made jewellery to bio-feedback devices, the bazaar is a miniature Satsang all of its own on the theme of Maya.
Late in the afternoon the word goes round that Guru Maharajj Ji has arrived and is staying at a secret address out of town. But many premies from Denver and Japan, through mechanical mishap, have not yet arrived, and he is careful for them, and so a soft rain begins to fall on Massachusetts, gently rendering impossible the events on the main outdoor stage. Instead, Satsang happens in a thousand places at once as the good people of Amherst hear their first introduction to Guru Maharaj Ji and his marvellous Knowledge.
The second day of the festival dawns bright and clear. ??? time the bazaar is dried out and functioning ??? top gear. Around the campus centre other buildings and outdoor stages feature Mahatma Satsang, films, song and dance (Krishna Lila is performed again) and, importantly, working parties discussing new approaches to propagation and welfare services. Rennie Davis outlines the latest division of Divine United organisation: the World Welfare Association, which will carry the main thrust of selfless service operations into the prisons, hospitals and ghettoes of America, words alone are no longer a viable communication. The solution: Project Love.
Initially begun in January 1974, Project Love is the social service program of Divine Light Mission. It is now operating in 30 cities across the USA and consists of 150 programs and projects which employ the talents of a thousand dedicated volunteers. Project Love is being particularly successful in the fields of drug rehabilitation and mental health.
Meanwhile throughout the three days other workshops hammer out guiding frameworks for the next few months in such areas as Shri Hans Educational, Third World Prachar, and the use of electronic media in propagation.
The evening of the second day at last comes, and with it the premies' first darshan of Guru Maharaj Ji. The stage is a huge three-quarter geodesic dome, covered with perspex and fairy lights and set upon a grand two-tier swan decorated interiorly illuminated base. Inside the dome Maharaj Ji's plain white throne rises about twenty feet, almost to the centre of the transparent sphere. The stage dominates the field where thousands of premies variously sit, stand and dance for joy. Guru Maharaj Ji dominates the stage and gives forceful Satsang which is excerpted in the New England newspapers next morning. Throughout, Durga Mata Ji, Maharaj Ji's bride of seven weeks, sits humbly with him, the epitome of devotion. She also gives Satsang and at the end the Mahatmas dance all over the stage in uncontained glee. The next morning is set aside for darshan. If you can't get darshan of your Guru every day, see Him once a week. If not once a week, once a month; if not once a month, once a year. For most people this is their once a year opportunity. Premies are lining both sides of the perimeter road of a nearby sports complex. The circumference is about a mile; thirteen thousand premies, both sides of the road: two miles of them. The sun pours down on the stationary lines. No one doubts that it will take all day. No one minds.
Suddenly Maharaj Ji appears. He is sitting sideways on a canopied jeep travelling solemnly down the line at less than one mile per hour! There is ample time to touch our heads on to the Lotus Feet, place an offering in the back of the jeep and receive prashad from a blissful Mahatma Padarthanand Ji, who is following close behind. The perfect solution to the mechanics of mass darshan! Maharaj Ji travels twice round the perimeter, once for each line of premies, and by the end of the morning everyone has made his individual pranam.
The final evening arrives with people dancing in the light of an exceptionally beautiful sunset. The program advertises fireworks after the Satsang, but Maharaj Ji anticipates us for an electrical storm in the distance plays silent forked lightning in the purple afterglow of the sun. The moon, still nearly full, rises like an apparition on the opposite horizon. The huge expectant crowd seems to be sharing the same thoughts and feelings as well as the same sense-impressions.
At eight o'clock the Apostles, America's number one devotional band since the dissolution of Blue Aquarius, open the program with driving rock. Bob Mishler gives Satsang, Tim Gallwey gives Satsang, Gary Girard gives Satsang. In between, the Apostles keep excelling each of their previous sets. At last no one can give any more Satsang. There is only dancing and singing. Michael Noury extemporises a brilliant "Maharaj Ji's Restaurant", verse after verse imploring the Perfect Master to appear. And then, to the unpremeditated accompaniment of "O Lord we've been waiting so long", Maharaj Ji in Krishna costume finally drives up and climbs on to the stage. It is midnight.
When the thunderous welcome dies away he commences an hour long Satsang interspersed with much mirth and high spirits. Once again Durga Mata Ji sits at his feet. After Maharaj Ji finishes she again gives a little Satsang, asking premies to save their letters to Maharaj Ji, to read them again in later days for inspiration, as they represent our souls' clearest messages to us. Then she holds aloft a tray of candles while thirteen thousand voices sing Arti, the age-old hymn of devotion to the living Lord.
Finally Mahatma Sampurnanand Ji places the crown on Maharaj Ji's head and the band begins to play again. The almost overwhelming energy finds release in dance. Durga Mata Ji leans up to Guru Maharaj Ji, imploring him to join. At that moment she is the physical embodiment of the love of all the premies. And then he danced …
This year four Guru Pujas have been held around the world, and Guru Maharaj Ji has attended two of them. In each a common theme emerged as the guideline for our service in the coming year. It can be summed up as: bring it down to earth and make it real. We have Knowledge, we must learn how to apply it. Say what we know, be what we are. Satsang must become an every-moment event, an all-levels activity, where five minutes spent getting food into a beggar is not rated any less than a two hour harangue in the town hall. The whole western world now knows something about Guru Maharaj Ji. It is watching to see what he, through us, is going to do. Then if that proves acceptable and attractive, nothing will be able to stem the stampede to the Lotus Feet.